Title: Reprioritize to showcase past successes

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Dear Sam: l lost my job as a district manager in October 2007. Since then, I have bounced around, holding two jobs each lasting six months. I am afraid that I may not be hired by another company, as I am 59 years old. What would you suggest? - Simon

Dear Simon: First, determine an appropriate amount of experience to list on your résumé. Based on the level which you want to pursue, I would imagine that would be between 10 and 15 years of experience. You may want to omit one of your recent short-term positions-as I am assuming they are not incredibly strong, based on your short tenure-as doing so would not cause a gap when only presenting years and not months of employment. As your district manager position would include many more accomplishments, I would suggest having a "Select Highlights" section on your résumé where your achievements could be previewed on page one of your résumé. By doing this, you will push your most recent, short-term experience toward the bottom of page one (or the top of page two) of your résumé, ensuring it plays a much less significant role during the screening process. Once you present a strategic amount of experience (to avoid unnecessarily aging your candidacy), highlight your accomplishments up front, and minimize the impact of having moved around twice in one year through omission of one of the short-term positions, you will find you have a strong résumé that will open doors.

Dear Sam: I am looking to relocate back to the England area where I am from. How would I go about finding out how the job market is back there and how would I set up an interview with a potential employer if they are interested. - Michael

Dear Michael: To source opportunities in the New England area you can visit the online job boards, and when searching, select the appropriate geographic region of interest. You should make sure you not only visit the major job boards but also the local newspaper's board to ensure you get a good idea of all the positions available in the area.

When you submit your résumé to a potential employer, I'd recommend placing a relative's or friend's local address on your résumé so you don't look time consuming and expensive to recruit (if you have that available to you). When doing this the object is not to mislead the reader, instead to look like a more competitive candidate considering you will be competing against mostly local candidates. In order to not mislead, make sure you place your current address somewhere on your résumé, or note toward the end of your cover letter that you are seeking to relocate to the New England area and are not seeking relocation assistance (if that is the case). Often times I will list an "upcoming" and a "current" address at the bottom of the résumé-so it is seen after a review of your candidacy-leaving the phone number(s) and email address at the top to be seen first. Now that we can take our phone numbers with us when we move, the sight of a long distance area code isn't necessarily an indication of someone's whereabouts, so placing that at the top of the résumé won't hurt your candidacy.

When a hiring manager calls to schedule an interview, obviously they will have read that you are not local and will likely conduct the initial interview over the phone before inviting you to an in-person meeting. Depending on the scope and budget of the search being conducted, your travel expenses, and even relocation expenses, could be funded by the employer. But, if you are not counting on this, make sure you mention that in your cover letter to avoid seeming too difficult and expensive to recruit.

Do you have a question for Dear Sam? Write to dearsam@semissourian.com. Samantha Nolan owns Ladybug Design, a résumé writing and interview coaching firm. For more information, call (888) 9-LADYBUG (888-952-3928) or visit www.ladybug-design.com.


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